Expansion of Dakota County Jail in limbo after County Commission meeting

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DAKOTA CITY, Neb. (KCAU) – An expansion to the Dakota County jail has been put on hold by a vote from county commissioners. The near $11 million expansion of the Dakota County jail would see construction over the current parking area. But, a decision by the county commissioners has left some officials scratching their heads. Commissioner Janet Gill said the total cost of the project is still unclear.

“They were tentatively planning on putting a construction manager into place and it was, we were a little bit at odds on that because part of us felt as though we needed to have a real feel what the overall cost was before we move forward with actual construction planning,” Dakota County Commissioner Janet Gill said.

Gill said they want to be confident taxpayer money won’t be used to complete the project.

“We all are fiduciaries for our county taxpayers, and we want to make sure. The debt that is taken on will be county debt and not from the government. It really is important to do your due diligence and make sure you know all the I’s are dotted, the T’s are crossed, that the cash flow is going to make sense,” Gill said.

But, Dakota County Sheriff Chris Kleinberg said the 3-2 vote in favor of delaying the expansion is frustrating when considering the project was already signed off by the commission a couple months ago.

“I don’t understand why you would as a board, enter an agreement with the federal government and a major architect firm, and then decide that you want to ask questions. I would think that if the board was doing their job and representing their citizens, they would have done that prior to signing,” Sheriff Kleinberg said.

Sheriff Kleinberg also said the jail extension would pay for itself if the county moves forward, but delays could end up costing the county.

“It’s already paid for, it’s not coming out of general funds, it’s not coming from the taxpayers, it’s coming from my jail staff and my sheriff staff that do the extra work to handle these inmates. After the 30 months when it’s paid for. Estimates of three to four million dollars a year just excess, extra revenue coming into the county. What’s going to happen now is, if it doesn’t go, well this county is going to be paying a lot of money for getting out of contracts and the stuff they’ve already done,” Kleinberg said.

When complete, 112 more beds would be added to the jails capacity. The discussion over hiring a construction management company to proceed with the expansion is on the agenda for next Monday’s meeting.

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